As the local favourite Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) rode into town for the Jelajah Malaysia 2015 (JM), we managed to catch an exclusive interview with the team.
Get the juice on what inspires the riders, Anuar Manan’s secret to winning the bunch sprints and more.
Anuar Manan – winner of Stage 3 and 5 of Jelajah Malaysia
Anuar Manan won two stages of five in Jelajah Malaysia, showing his prowness in winning bunch sprints among incredible talents in Asia. His closest rivals were no pushovers in Andrea Palini coming off pro tour team Lampre-Merida to join Skydive Dubai. Korea’s KSPO rider, Seo Joon Yong followed Anuar closely and forced the best out of him, putting the pedal to the mettle.
“We did well in gaining some bonus time for Saiful who placed 7th in the General Classification (GC), and bonus points for climber Nur Amirul who won the KOM jersey,” said Anuar Manan.
BB: What was your feeling going into the sprint or did you know you had the edge over your rivals?
Anuar: We expected the sprinter from Skydive Dubai, Palini. Before this race, we had tours in China and Sharjah, and he was in good form, always wins podium placing. I tried and stay close with him.
In Stage 3, the Korean rider, Park – he knows we’re the good sprinters, so in the last kilometer, he followed me to the finish line. He’s quite clever as he knew who had good legs, and knew that I have experience and a good record in winning sprints and stages in Jelajah Malaysia.
At the first jump, Park followed me and I shot ahead in the last 250m which others did not expect and secured the win.
BB: So you emulated Mark Cavendish who’s been sprinting early this year?
Anuar: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
BB: How have you been training for this race?
Anuar: We have a Training camp based in Chiang Mai, Thailand for one month before Tour de Langkawi early in the year. Besides that we go through our regular training, interval training and some racing before we end the season.
BB: What’s your target for 2016?
Anuar: Well, Le Tour de Langkawi (LTDL) is the big race we all look forward to for TSG. Meanwhile, I’ll also hope to get some victories and collect points in UCI races towards (qualifying for) the Rio Olympics.
Harrif Salleh – Third in Stage 3, Jelajah Malaysia
BB: How do you feel about your performance in the race?
Harrif: In this race, I was a lead-out for Anuar as I’m not in top form, but managed to secure a third place in the 3rd stage.
I picked up a stomach ailment, perhaps from over-indulging in our local Sambal. It’s never bothered me before, but perhaps it takes over when my body is weak.
BB: What does it take to be a sprinter on the world stage?
Harrif: To be a sprinter you have to be brave and bold to be in front and work like a ‘kamikaze’ (suicidal military attack) to fight for the end. You have to set your mind, aim for the finish line and prepare yourself. Elbow nudges and flying hands are the norm especially from the Italians during LTDL.
BB: Who is your idol in professional cycling?
Harrif: My idol is our local hero, Azizulhasni Awang. I aspire to train hard and persevere to achieve my targets like him. You have to keep your mind focused on cycling, as you can see Azizulhasni is really committed to cycling.
I’ve been with TSG since the inception of 2011. My background is with track cycling, training alongside Azizulhasni Awang and John Beastly. Won a couple of titles in the Asian and World Championships from 2007, but I feel more at home with road racing hence I made the switch.
BB: What’s your target for 2016?
Harrif: Next year, I’ll target to be the team sprinter for Langkawi.
Nur Amirul Mazuki – King of Mountain (KOM) jersey winner
Coming in from Tour of Sharjah, UAE with the KOM jersey on his back, Nur Amirul was the favourite to win the KOM at Jelajah Malaysia. He narrowly pipped Beikkhormizi from Iran’s Pishgaman Giant team as they both finished with the same number of points on the last stage.
“We did our best to hold onto KOM jersey. We’ve climbed Bukit Ampang before during training. The hill is 12km into the race, and we hoped there won’t be a breakaway before that,” said Nur Amirul.
BB: What’s your strength?
Amirul: I don’t focus on climbing solely, prefer undulating terrain and rolling hills. For the future, I would like to be an all-rounder, and go for GC. I aspire to do better next year than this year and make it into the team selection for LTDL.
BB: Who were your closest rivals in the KOM?
Amirul: In the other teams, the Iranians are strong, the Filipinos are aggressive and if they breakaway, it will be difficult to stay together and defend the KOM jersey.
This is my second time in JM with TSG, in my fifth year with TSG. I feel more confident, and more experienced now.
BB: How did you get started in professional cycling?
Amirul: My interest started from watching cycling on television during LTDL and watching (as a passer-by) on the road side in school uniform.
BB: Did you expect that someday it would be you that was cycling?
Amirul: Not at all, because I didn’t know where to start. Along the way, I got support from family and started cycling.
TSG didn’t disappoint the home crowd and we’re looking forward to an exciting tussle for glory in the Le Tour de Langkawi 2016.
Stay tuned for the second part of our Exclusive Interview with TSG soon.